Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media
Joshua Hinds is doing much better in school this year. The 13-year-old eighth grader had been struggling until he got involved in the 21st Century Learning Program at Coleman Middle School in Greenville, Miss.
The 21st Century Program is a national program that fosters the creation of community learning centers to improve student achievement, social skills, parent involvement and to foster a collaborative relationship with the community.
In Greenville, there are eight different sites for the program, including elementary and high schools. The students are chosen to participate in the program through referral by teachers, parents and others.
Hinds says he’s already seen his grades improve. “My teacher in the program is really helpful. She gives each of us a lot of one-on-one help so that we can all improve in our subjects. She even went out of her way to talk to the teachers about our weaknesses in the classes we were doing bad in.”
Hinds’ 74 percent average in his math class has increased to an average of 82 percent. The instructors for the program are teachers in the same schools as the participants. They say they get together regularly to evaluate one another by focusing on the progress their students are making.
“When we meet, the main aspect we focus on is ‘How much improvement is my 21st Century student making?’ From there we team up to figure out what other teaching methods, activities and tactics we need to use to better the students,” says Shaquita Williams, an 8th grade language arts teacher.
Viva Guynes, the director of the 21st Century Program in Greenville, says her role is to plan for long term growth and development of the program. She says she monitors results and makes adjustments to be sure the program meets its goals.
“We also have an outside evaluator who comes and checks as well as the Mississippi Department of Education,” says Guynes.
Coleman Middle School is a part of the program because it is a low performing school. Guynes says that it brings her great satisfaction to do her job every day because she knows she is making a difference, not only in the school but also in the community as well.
The program operates Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The program is also conducted over the summer Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
“It really takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make this program work smoothly. The hours can be very demanding, but I am lucky to have the awesome staff that gives 100 percent,” says Guynes.
All students receive a daily snack and are provided with transportation home each day. For questions regarding the After School Prorgram, please contact Viva Guynes, Program Director at 662) 334-7180 or (662) 390-7432.
Viva Guynes, the director of the 21st Century Program in Greenville, speaks about the program and its goals.